Not all signs of racism are blatant, and it is often present in the workplace in a subtle form.
Racism is illegal in the U.S., and it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unfortunately, racial oppression, just like all forms of discrimination, cause anxiety and psychological distress, making it very difficult for victims to concentrate on the task at hand.
These are the 5 most common signs of racial oppression in the workplace.
Stereotyping and racial oppression
Stereotyping is harmful because it negates the individuality of each person. It places people in a pre-defined group by making false generalizations, and it attributes the same characteristics to all people considered to be in the same group. It also creates divisions between various groups, especially when using words like “they” and “us” to distinguish between them.
Stereotyping often rears its head from even before a person has a job. In some cases, an applicant of for a position from another race may be offered a job that is below their qualifications.
Stereotyping also includes jokes, negative comments on race, culture, customs, etc.
Passed over for promotion
In some workplaces, people of race find they are often overlooked for promotion, roles in managerial positions, or even for a salary raise. This type of racial oppression is often difficult to prove, and companies argue that promotions are a discretionary decision.
However, there are cases where candidates are overlooked for promotion based on race, even if they have better qualifications, have brought in excellent results, have more experience, or have a better education than the candidate promoted. In these cases, racial oppression cannot be denied.
Victims of racism often find that even if they are promoted, their authority is continually undermined or challenged. This often happens at all levels, and may involve company employees in lower, or even higher positions.
Implicit bias acted out in an unconscious manner
Besides being overlooked for a promotion or raise, implicit bias can also affect the workplace culture and other decisions within the workplace. One of the best ways for businesses to tackle this is to keep an open line of communication with employees, especially those of other races. They need to look out for discrimination in the work culture, hiring process, promotions, charities they support; and even at the organization’s social events. Businesses also need to be wary of their associations with brands that might have discriminatory practices.
When guidance becomes open criticism
Subtle racial oppression is also sometimes exercised in the form of criticism, no matter how satisfactory the person’s work is. All employees within the workplace may sometimes need guidance to meet the daily challenges. If criticism within a company is not applied uniformly across all workers, and is constantly directed at someone of a different race, then it can be considered as a form of racism.
Oppression in the form of open hostility
Open hostility does not only need to include direct racial labels or racial slurs. It is usually conducted more subtly and uses mocking and critical comments that infer racial discrimination. They may be aimed at the food, music, and cultural behaviors preferred by someone and make the person feel uncomfortable and out-of-place. This form of open hostility is often disguised under the cloak of being a joke or just as innocent teasing, but it affects how the person is accepted in the workplace and causes them severe mental anguish.
Racial oppression in the workplace is often difficult to prove, but it does boil down to unequal treatment. It should be nipped in the bud before it roots itself into the company culture, and it is up to management and human resources to recognize it and put a stop to it.
In the U.S., employees who can prove racial oppression have the legal right to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).